Pre-Departure Check List

Congratulations on your admission to UAH! You must complete the following before you arrive at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

  1. Add to your safe senders list – important pre-arrival emails with orientation information will be sent from the International Student and Scholar Services Office and to ensure you are receiving information, please add this email address to your contact list to avoid it going to your SPAM folder.

    YOU MUST ARRIVE TO CAMPUS before your mandatory immigration orientation and check-in. You may have other on campus orientations, undergraduate, graduate, transfer, etc. that are also required. –Immigration check-in is mandatory for all F1 and J1 students. Please write to us if you need clarification. In the coming months you will receive emails regarding online orientation that will be done prior to your arrival on campus this August.

  2. Pay SEVIS I-901 fee
    The U.S. Government requires students and exchange visitors to pay a SEVIS fee in order to qualify for a non-immigrant F or J visa. This is required for an initial entry to the U.S. to begin a program of study. If you have questions about the fee, please refer to Canadian and Bermudian citizens, who are not required to have an F1 visa stamp, must show proof of I-901 payment at a U.S. Port of Entry.
    1. Use the I-20 issued by UAH to pay the fee on-line at
    2. Print the receipt and bring it to the consulate interview as proof of payment in order to be qualified for the F1 visa.
  3. Schedule U.S. Embassy/Consulate appointment
    The U.S. Embassy/Consulate ( will make the final decision in granting you an F-1 (student) visa to enter the U.S. An F-1 visa can be issued to you up to 12 months before the school start date listed on the I-20; APPLY EARLY! Plan your visa and travel 1-2 months prior to the start of classes so you can arrive at UAH in time for orientation.
    1. Find the U.S. Embassy/Consulate nearest your home.
    2. Contact this Embassy/Consulate to make an appointment for non-immigrant visa application review.
  4. Go to U.S. Embassy/Consulate appointment
    You have to speak with a consular official who reviews many visa applications every day. The officer will quickly review your documents, ask about your plans of study, and verify that you have the academic ability, English language skills, and the financial resources to study at UAH. Since you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, the officer will require documentation of proof of intent to return to your home country. The officer will give you instructions about picking up your documents and your visa or when to expect them in the mail. You must take all the proper documents with you during your visa appointment. If you don’t, you may have to return for a second time, which may delay your visa for several weeks.

    Common Items Required for Visa Application (
    • visa application forms from the Embassy/Consulate
    • photographs for visa
    • visa application fee – amount varies per country
    • receipt for SEVIS I-901 fee payment
    • I-20 from UAH
    • letter of admission from UAH
    • valid passport
    • TOEFL/IELTS Score (non-native English speakers)
    • proof of finances and assistantship letter
    • previous school transcripts, diplomas or records

    Important: You plan to be a student and should not apply for a tourist visa (B1/B2 or WT-Visa Waiver). If you already have a tourist visa in your passport, this will not prevent you from getting a student visa. You should be certain that you show your F1 visa and I-20 at the U.S. Port of Entry. Immigration laws do not allow a person who entered the U.S. on a tourist visa to take classes at a university or college.

  5. Buy airline ticket
    1. Check the start date listed on your I-20. You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before this date.
    2. Buy a ticket to Huntsville, Alabama. The code for Huntsville International Airport is HSV.

    Important: Do not arrange to fly to the U.S. before receiving your F1 visa from the U.S. Consulate.

  6. Contact UAH
    1. Send your confirmation of attendance to and let us help you prepare for your arrival.
    2. Contact the Housing Office if you plan to live on campus to ensure housing will be available – you must also inquire about an early move in request form.
    3. Contact the Student Health Center to ask any questions about immunization forms and read the attachment titled Student Health Information.
  7. Fly to Huntsville, Alabama
    1. Carry your immigration documents with you onto the airplane.
    2. When you first arrive in the U.S., you must show your passport and immigration documents to the Port of Entry Officer. Your passport will be stamped with an entry date and your I-20 will be reviewed. Keep these documents in a safe place at all times. If you lose these documents, you will pay a lot of time and money to replace them.
    3. Arrive in Huntsville, Alabama. If you requested someone to pick you up at the airport, he/she will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall. If you need transportation to campus there are taxis outside of baggage claim.
  8. Come to UAH
    1. Your first day at UAH will be written as the start date on your I-20. 

    Important: Important: You must report to the school listed on the I-20 you used to enter the U.S.

  9. ITEMS TO CARRY WITH YOU ON THE AIRPLANE (include in your carry-on)
    1. I-20
    2. Valid Passport
    3. Valid visa for UAH
    4. Your admission letter
    5. Airplane ticket(s)
    6. Cash, traveler’s checks, or any international bank card
    7. Phone numbers and email addresses of emergency contacts at home and in the United States
    8. Phone numbers and email addresses of relatives, friends, the International Student and Scholar Services Office (256-824-6055 during business hours)
    9. An English translation of your medical history and documents
    10. Prescriptions for medications you take and a fresh supply of prescription medicines you need
    11. Medical records (including vaccination records) for your accompanying spouse/children (if applicable)
  10. AFTER YOUR ARRIVAL IN HUNTSVILLE (schedule will be provided upon arrival):
    1. Graduate or undergraduate program
    2. Pay your tuition – due first day of class by 5pm
    3. Buy books – Charger Union bookstore
    4. Familiarize yourself with campus – campus tours